Getting out of the house with Ted each day is always a priority for me. It’s taken me a while to build up the right mix of classes, activities and play dates to keep us both happy. I thought I’d give you a run down on what works for us (and a couple of things that haven’t) in case you need some inspiration.
Baby Sensory Classes
Ted started Baby Sensory at 4 weeks old and loved it from the very first session. It’s a mixture of music, singing and lots of sensory stimulation including coloured lights, big parachutes and sensory scarves. The song from the beginning of the class ‘Say Hello to the Sun’ still calms Ted down if he is feeling agitated. He graduated from Baby sensory and has now started toddler sense which he loves too. I’d really recommend this class for meeting other mums and seeing your baby experience new sensations and that all important sensory stimulation when they are tiny.
Tip: If you can’t make it to class have a look at the Baby Sensory shop on their website. You can buy packs to help give your baby sensory stimulation at home.
Ted’s graduation from Baby Sensory.
Puddleducks Swimming Lessons
Again Ted started these at 4 weeks old and they are definitely the highlight of his week. I was very nervous taking Ted for the first time, he was so tiny and I worried that I might drop him or that he might drink the water by accident. I shouldn’t have worried at all, the teachers were incredible at showing you how to manage the babies safely in the water. From week 2 Ted was going under water and week by week his confidence grew and so did mine. Now Ted is able to respond to instructions like ‘reach’, ‘turn’ and ‘hold on’ in the water. He will happily complete duckling dives and put his face in the water to blow bubbles. I am so pleased to see him enjoy the water so much and develop the skills to keep him safe in the future. The only downside to these is that they are quite expensive, some leisure centres do more reasonable splash time classes though so definitely worth looking into.
Tip: if you can, get someone to come with you for the first couple of sessions. It takes a while to get used to changing a wiggly baby and yourself especially when there are no baby changes.
Local playgroup/ stay & play
Ted and I tried a few local stay and plays to find the one that suited us. Ours is in the local village hall but run by the children’s centre. The children have free play with lots of activities; sand tables, messy play, sticking and painting, imaginative play and a baby corner. After an hour they have a drink and a snack and then there’s usually some nursery rhyme singing which Ted absolutely loves. This is a nice way to meet other mums as there’s more time to chat than in a class, they are also free so great if you’re on a budget.
Tip: There are usually plenty of stay and plays local to you. Try churches, children’s centres and village halls. Hoop app is great for letting you know what’s going on in your area.
Tumble Tots seem to have been around forever, my mum took me as a baby and now I’m taking Ted. This class is a mixture of short bits of singing and longer free play time. The free play is very physical which really suits Ted, lots of climbing, jumping and generally charging around. As Ted gets bigger these physical activities are becoming his favourite, he’s really active and likes to be on the move and exploring all the time. Tumble Tots gives him the opportunity to do this safely.
Tip: You can book a trial session for free, definitely worth trying to see if you enjoy it before booking a term.
Soft play fun.
Local Soft Play
We have a favourite local soft play that tends not to be too busy and has lots of different activities for Ted to try. Our local Dobbies has also just opened a soft play which gives me the chance to have a coffee (and cake of course) whilst Ted runs out some energy. Finding these means we always have an option on a rainy day. Like the stay and plays we had to find the right fit for us, some soft play centres don’t provide much for babies or you may find that some just have too many bigger kids around. We tried about 5 and now have two regular favourites as a good base for play dates or just a rainy day trip for the two of us.
Tip: Some shopping centres have free soft play. Our local mall has a free one which is great for Ted as he can have a play break from shopping!
A Good Walk
We have a local country park which is free, has a nice long walk and a brilliant play park. It also has a coffee shop which is a bonus. We visit here or our local castle at least once a week for a walk, a crawl around and sometimes, if we’re lucky, a chance to pet some of the dogs on their daily walks. Again this is a nice free activity that just blows the cobwebs away if we’re having a rough day.
Tip: If you have a country park near you these are great. Most have an easy access trail marked out for buggy’s but I tend to prefer taking Ted in his carrier.
National Trust sites are brilliant. They usually have tons of outdoor space, interesting things to look at, good cafes and Baby changes and sometimes brilliant play areas. For £9.50 a month Gareth and I have joint NT membership and Ted is free. We’ve used it loads and can easily spend a whole day at one place. It’s also great when on holiday in the UK as it gives you access to some really interesting places.
Tip: If you use Top Cashback you can claim £10 back on your National Trust membership.
With Grandad at Knole Park, one of our favourite NT properties.
Things that didn’t work for us:
Hartbeeps is a sensory class that focuses on transporting children into a different world. The babies are given lots of different costumes to wear and there is lots of singing. This class requires too much sitting still for Ted but was brilliant for sensory stimulation. We decided that Baby Sensory was more suitable for Ted.
Lots of people swear by Baby massage and we tried it when Ted was small. I found there was lots of talking from the instructor between massages and Ted got quite restless. I found it much easier to follow some tutorials on YouTube.
We fill our weeks now with a mixture of classes, play dates, park trips, soft play and National Trust visits. This usually means that whatever the weather we get out every day.
What have been your favourite things to do with your children? Are there any classes that you really love? I’d love to know what you recommend!